“During the monsoon, we had to walk extra kilometres for hours. On days of heavy downpour, open defecation would be a nightmare. Infectious diseases were rampant, often affecting a considerable chunk of the village population. The situation was far more difficult for the womenfolk. Thanks to Marta, now the situation in our village is changed,” shares Guddu, a member of one of the 31 families for whom Marta built eco-friendly toilets, using the funds raised via crowdfunding. In total, 432 donors donated Rs. 4,81,877 via Efforts For Good.
Who is Marta?
Marta Vanduzer-Snow is an American native who settled in India in 2012 and started working in the remote villages of Uttar Pradesh. She has been building self-cleaning, no-maintenance evapotranspiration toilets in the villages under the project name “Better Village Better World”.
The total cost to construct one unit of this toilet is approximately Rs 10,000 while a normal toilet under Swachh Bharat Abhiyan costs Rs. 17,000. To reduce the expenditure, they use easily-available resources like broken bricks and recycled materials wherever possible, including fly ash bricks and used tyres. Apart from the occasional cleaning of the squatting platform, no other maintenance is needed.
Till now Marta has built 197 toilets. She spent her own money on 82 toilets and 31 toilets were constructed via crowdfunding through Efforts For Good. The villagers help her with the manual labour.
Problem and solution
As per the latest Swachhta Status Report 2016, 52.1% of the rural population of the country still defecates in the open. Uttar Pradesh has a population of 204.2 million (2012 census) and only 35% of its households have toilets.
In 2012, Marta surveyed a village in Uttar Pradesh and discovered that the majority of the villagers wanted toilets in their homes and communities. She explained different toilet models to the villagers. They chose “evapotranspiration” toilet model which is completely eco-friendly and requires no-maintenance, thanks to its self-cleaning feature. Also, this model requires less land area. Marta believes that “asking, listening and observing over time is the key to understanding what people want.”
Marta is also a co-author of different books, research papers and has developed a theory for three-pronged strategy on development that incorporates health, education and the pieces of infrastructure.
Updates Of Marta’s crowdfunding campaign to raise funds for 100 toilets
Update 2:Project: Let Us Help Marta To Build 100 Low Cost, Eco-Friendly And Maintenance Free Toilets In VillagesMore…
The speciality of evapotranspiration toilet model
A normal toilet tank is filled with urine, faecal matter and water. The waste is later emptied either manually or using machines. Due to the opening in the septic tank, the urine and faecal matter enter the soil polluting the groundwater and causing health issues. But in this evapotranspiration toilet, the waste is filtered without human intervention and there is no soil pollution. This has been certified by FICCI Research and Analysis centre.
It has an on-site sanitation system for the chemical and biological treatment and reuse of household blackwater. It was developed and popularised over the last two to three decades by permaculture practitioners in different countries, especially the U.S.A and Brazil.
How does evapotranspiration toilet work
As shown in the picture, the toilet consists of several layers consisting of soil, sand, smaller and bigger stones and finally a layer of recycled tyres. All these layers work together to clean the tank.
The substructure layers together use the processes of anaerobic digestion, capillary action, evaporation, and transpiration, to filter, release and absorb the waste matter. Anaerobic digestion converts a portion of the human excreta into biogas, exiting out the back-standpipe.
The digested matter travels up and out through capillary action. The nutrients leave the system by getting incorporated into the plant biomass through mineralisation and absorption by its roots, while evapotranspiration removes the liquid, either transpiring through the plants or evaporating at the surface of the soil.
Effectiveness of the toilet model
1. User surveys: The team follows up with the toilet users, conducting several usage and performance surveys.
2. An accredited laboratory, local government authorities, engineers and sustainable architects all reviewed and certified the toilet model.
3. The FICCI Research and Analysis centre collected samples from the toilets. The required parameters tested are within the permissible limits. Coliform and E.coli were not detected in the water hand pumps situated near the toilets.
Marta is aiming to build another 100 toilets in the remote villages of Uttar Pradesh. Let us come together and help her in making this a reality.